We've cruised on different lines-Princess, RCL, Carnival, Costa, Disney and this is our second with NCL. After the first experience,my DH wouldn't try NCL again unless it was in a Haven Suite. We had room 13302-from what I read, its smaller than the other S6, it was one of the few left when I booked. My 2 DS (8 and 12) thought the room was big enough. This is our 2nd time trying the "suite life". The first was in a Crown Loft on RCL's Allure. We're easy to please, I'm not a neat freak,but in retrospect I should have spoken up sooner about the one issue, it wasn't a dealbreaker till the last day. I'll get the "bad" over with first:
Room-I didn't bring my Lysol because my DH said, "Haven Suite, they should know how to clean". By the end of the week, I regretted it. Initially, I couldn't pinpoint how to explain a feeling I had till the last day. The cabin steward, Shelton, either had a bad week or was just lazy. It was little things that just added up during the week which reached a boiling point by Saturday night when it was too late to do much. By Saturday night, I felt I should say something, I called, to notify their supervisor about how I felt, they wanted to come clean at 11pm, my DH basically said the kids are asleep. We had taken pictures today. I was told on the phone that if I wanted to do something I should go to guest services on deck 6, well, after Gambee's experience, I cringed, but prepared for battle. Luckily, I ran into Luis, my favorite concierge, who became my vacation hero. He listened, helped me write up a report and it was then that I realized those little things added up to a big one against the room! Luis took care of the situation and restored my faith in NCL.
Onto the better parts:
Butler-well, slightly better, like I said, we're easy to please, don't ask for much. I can't even remember his name. He introduced himself and showed me how to use the most important machine in the room-the fancy espresso maker. I asked for milk and OJ to be stocked in the fridge and picked some DVD for the boys. Beyond the second day, we didn't see him.
Dining-The food on NCL was better than RCL. We tried the Haven dining room and ate there for most of our meals. Although the menu doesn't change, there are always different specials available every night. The matre'd, Mr. Singh told us he could bring us whatever we wanted from other restaurants, specialty included. That made my DS happy, Mr. Singh had chicken wings brought up from O'Sheehans for him, still hot too! We tried the Manhattan room, had no problem getting a table at 6:30 on the day we left Bermuda. I found the service to be very good, the food was not as good as the Haven. It was fun to dance through our meal, we had a good time with the live music there. We also tried the Raw Bar, the calamari was the best I've ever tasted, I didn't even dip it into the Aoli sauce. My husband liked the sea bass cerviche, I thought the vinegar flavor was too strong for me. We both liked the crab toasts, but you've got to like olives as it was mixed into the crab. We didn't try the the shellfish because we live in New England, we can get it all at home. The buffet was good, the single lines didn't bother us, as we just skipped over the sections we didn't like. The kids liked having their ice cream scooped and putting their own toppings everyday. I liked the tiramisu in the dessert section, very light, I noticed they couldn't keep enough of it out.
Entertainment-We saw Burn the Floor(good), Rock of Ages(good, definitely not for kids-the Splash Academy opened early for drop off), Michael Finney(my little DS thought he talked too much and not enough magic tricks), a couple of Nick shows(boys loved it), Howl at the Moon(my favorite) and Slam Allen(didn't stay long enough, no seats for all of us). For the main shows, they blocked off a special Haven section. I wish they did what RCL did, the suite guests could go into any show w/o reservation, as long as we were there at least 15 min prior, after that they released the seats. It was a nice suite perk where we didn't have to keep changing our plans. Julie the cruise director was great, easy to talk to and the dance parties were so much fun for everyone.
Haven area-It was a little piece of Heaven for me, similar to going to a Ritz Carlton. I spent most of my time here, I don't know if it was subconscious that I felt something was wrong with my room, or that I was getting a bit seasick. I didn't feel seasick in the pool or hot tub. You could always find a lounge chair, the deck was constantly being mopped dry to prevent slipping and I saw them cleaning the pool and hot tub every night. The Haven had a lot of big families during the week we went so there were kids playing, but no one got out of line, we were always watching ours when they were there. They brought fruit skewers and cold towels and always had coffee, water, OJ and cookies available. It was a perfect place to be during the 2 rain showers we had, I would be sitting in the hot tub watching the rain splatter onto the glass ceiling.
Splash Academy- NCL did a better job than all the other cruise lines except Disney. Disney being the exception, both boys don't usually volunteer to go the kids club. I was surprised my 12 yr old wanted to go. My DH and I were able to enjoy some adult time in the Haven and casino. I like how NCL had him with the 10-12 yr olds, on RCL, he would have been with the teen crowd. They did a wonderful job putting on a Family Carnival, we all had fun decorating cupcakes.
Bermuda-We hit the national holiday so we had to pre-plan a bit more. We got our bus passes onboard the ship-$15 for adults, $7.50 for kids. There were lots of pink buses that took passengers directly to Horseshoe bay. We then caught the ferry to Harbor Nights, it was like a street fair. The next day we did Hartleys Helmet Dive, I remember other cruise passengers raving about it from our last trip to Bermuda. One word from the boys-"Awesome!" Again, our maitre'd was very accommodating, the helmet dive ran late and we had an hour for lunch before our taxi tour-no time for local food, so it was buffet or Haven for lunch? Mr Singh came thru for us and got us fed on time. After reading CC reviews, I went with Colin Jennings at $40/hr. Even though a lot of places were closed, we got to see huge sea turtles outside the aquarium, learn Bermuda history, feed fish, see the lighthouse, fort and pass by Michael Douglas' house. To be safe, we booked the Bermuda Triangle snorkel tour from the ship. The ocean was a bit rough but we were able to see the shipwrecks before the storm rolled in.
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise despite minor issues, NCL has a great product with Haven, we didn't have as many suite perks with RCL. The staff including the cabin steward was friendly, they smiled and greeted guests. Forgot to mention the dedicated elevator for Haven guests on embarkation was a nice touch. The debarkation was a little stressful as trying to get an elevator was difficult, our elusive butler didn't escort us. People were carrying large pieces of luggage into the elevators so after 15 minutes of waiting, we decided to walk down.
Like I said, I should have spoken up sooner, but couldn't pinpoint specifically what I was feeling until the problem became visibly evident on the last day. I had "cabin steward/butler envy" when I saw the difference in service for the people staying inside the Haven courtyard. Luis assured me I shouldn't have felt that way. I agree with other CC reviews that the casino is in a terrible location, RCL did a better job here with the Promenade and putting the casino one level below. Not a deal breaker though. Would we try NCL again? Definitely, but we it would be hard booking anything else besides the Haven.:)